The Mansfield Town Council approved a new water and sewage deal with the University of Connecticut at its meeting on Monday night.
Under the agreement Mansfield will control 18 percent of the sewage treatment reserve at UConn’s sewage plant, according to the agenda item prepared by Town Manager Matt Hart. This 18 percent is equal to 540,000 gallons per day.
The 18 percent ownership requires the town to contribute that percent of funding to some further developments UConn will make to its sewer system. This does not include projects that happen exclusively within UConn’s campus, Hart said.
Councilors Mark Sargent, Denise Keane and Virginia Raymond voted against the agreement.
Councilor Raymond criticized the deal for being too favorable to the university.
“It’s absolutely the most one-sided agreement I have seen in a long time,” Raymond said.
Mayor Paul Shapiro said during the meeting that UConn held advantages in the negotiations.
Mansfield is currently connected to UConn’s system, and if the town did not make its deal with the university, Mansfield would have to build a new one, costing millions of dollars and potentially taking a decade to complete, Councilor Toni Moran said.
Correction to the article headlined “Mansfield approves new sewer deal with UConn” published on September 13, 2016.
Mayor Paul Shapiro was attributed as saying that if Mansfield did not accept UConn’s sewer deal, then the town would have to spend years and millions of dollars building another one. This should have been attributed to Town Councilor Toni Moran.
Shapiro was also quoted as saying, “They (UConn) are in a far superior position than we are at this moment.” This was taken out of context and misworded. Shapiro also had said before this comment that he was not at that time speaking as Mansfield’s mayor and was instead speaking only as a council member.
The full quote, transcribed from 1:46:10 in the townhallstreams.com recording of the September 12, 2016, meeting:
“Article III of page 84 in the old agreement—the agreement with my name on it, that I really did not negotiate—it’s said that either party may terminate it on 60 days notice. Now I’d never believe that UConn would create a public health emergency by saying ‘No. That’s the end of your sewer rights. Go find someplace else, and by the way you have 60 days.’ But that is what they could have done, and I think that puts them in a far, far superior position. They are in a far superior position right now, and they are under this agreement. The significance of the continuation of sewer service that was negotiated by Mr. Hart and by the attorney and by the staff, I think that can’t be—shouldn’t be underestimated. This makes sense for now and I also agree that I would rather not have the town commit to anything longer than five years because I want to see how this works before I go any longer. That’s my position speaking as a council member and not as the mayor.”
Chris McDermott is the news editor for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.